Cameras roll this week on ‘Boss’ series, two pilots

ROLL THOSE CAMERAS!  Television production started last Thursday on Starz’ second season of “Boss” and the pilot of NBC’s  “Chicago Fire,” from Dick Wolf Productions, both of them shooting at Cinespace.  And executive producer/director Michael Dinner this week commences production on Sony TV’s “Dirty Medicine.” 

MTI’s long-awaited series “Underemployed” got pushed back from April to a start date of May 7, according to the Chicago Film Office’s always helpful Rich Moskal.

A new cast member of “Boss” for a season-long arc is rapper T.I. (real name, Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) and co-founder/CEO of Grand Hustle Records.  He’s had previous roles in “Takers” and “ATL.”

In “Boss,” which appears to be his big acting break, T.I. plays a former gangbanger with designs on a career in City Hall, who represents a symbiosis between Chicago politics and crime.  Wow, what a concept!

And here’s a bit of gossip for ya.  We hear Lady Gaga was visiting her boyfriend who is in the cast of “Chicago Fire.” His name not revealed but he could be anyone of the new young hunks on the show.  Should the pilot go to series, we might be seeing a lot more of the pop star.

INDIE ICON JOHN SAYLES (“Lone Star” and currently producing “The Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Trial”), a man of many creative talents, will be visiting Chicago Thursday at Columbia College’s Story Week Festival of Writers to promote his book, “A Moment in the Sun.”

Sayles appears at 1 p.m. at Film Row Cinema and again at 6 p.m. at the “Literary Rock & Roll” session at Metro at 6 p.m.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD. After 32 years as head of A. Eicoff & Company, Ron Bliwas stepped down, “in part because I want more time to pursue my love of travel, and in part because I have done this job for longer than just about any other major agency CEO,” he says. 

His successor as president/CEO is 27-year agency veteran Bill McCabe, who says the appointment is “a great honor.  In its 57-year history, the agency has had only two previous CEOs, founder Alvin Eicoff as the first and Ron,” McCabe says.  Bliwas will remain “an involved presence in all of the agency’s activities.”

Bliwas says he is confident that McCable will “ensure Eicoff continues to lead the industry as DRTV takes hold on a much broader scale.”

SERVICES WILL BE HELD FRIDAY for my dear, good friend, John Robinson, a former head of Allstate’s A/V department for 25 years.  A gifted all-around filmmaker, Mr. Robinson was a valued associate in my upcoming “Mahalia” feature project from the very start. 

Services will be held at Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester.  The wake will be held at 10 a.m., services at 11 a.m.  Mr. Robinson is survived by his loving wife, Valerie, daughters Tiffany and Danielle, two grandsons, a large family and a host of friends. 

GRAY TALENT GROUP made this comedy video Sh!t Chicago Actors Say, which they say got more than 2,000 hits on YouTube.

A CAUTIONARY TALE.  Iowa TV personality and horse trainer Dennis Brouse who inflated $13.4 worth of non-existent or near valueless items for Iowa film tax credits in 2008-9, was convicted on a charge of fraudulent practices.  The star of “Saddle Up with Dennis Brouse” on PBS will be sentenced May 2 and faces 10 years in prison. 

Iowa’s film incentives were killed September, 2009 when a scandal erupted involving 10 local filmmakers, including Brouse, who exploited the filmmaking rules and lax oversight.

LOCAL SAG/AFTRA MEMBERS are urged to vote “yes” for the proposed merger of the two talent unions, with a reminder that ballots must be received at the assigned post office no later than 10 a.m. March 30.